Debating in Harvard renders a genuine service and in return it is neglected by students and administration alike. Its grievance is in no way lessened by the success it has won, for all its conquests are made at the expense of unneccessary pain and tribulation. Debating must be received into the body of the curriculum: into the Department of Public Speaking.
If anyone were so rash as to question the standing of a debating club as an indispensable part of the college, the ones attacked would swarm about him and riddle him with piercing arguments. The clash of two bodies armed with football pads is more exciting than the clash of two intellects armed with barbs of perspicacity. The glamor of brute conflict, of blaring horns and rousing cheers, can never be replaced by the subtle encounters of the mind. But colleges are institutions of learning, and thus they are most truly represented by their debating teams.
Nor is the Public Speaking Department complete without debating. The value of the courses given is unquestioned. But it is one thing to sway an unthinking mob or a pack of loungers softened by a hearty dinner and good wind and quite another thing to grapple with an intellect fully as keen as one's own. Mental agility and trenchant powers of persuasion can best be developed through debating.
Debating, as it now exists in the college, would be greatly benefited by this absorption. For right now the debaters are suffering from insufficient training. The present coach, an excellent mentor, is not paid a cent for his efforts. He has invaluable instruction to give, but he also has a living to earn. Thus the time he can spare for his disciples is almost inconsiderable, and the most mcager of hints have to suffice. His generosity is phenomenal, for he gives his own office as debating headquarters. Still, the dialectic warriors need much more time than he can afford.
If the debaters were taken into the benevolent protection of the college, they would have both a suitable place to meet and a coach who, as a member of the Department of Public Speaking, would receive his salary from the college and would give his time largely to the needs of his dialectic warriors. Then probably debating would flourish as it should, and would be able to persuade more men to partake of its manifold blessings.